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Potatoes Iscariot

Potatoes Iscariot

Joseph Messina


  • 12 medium red potatoes (approx. 2#), quartered

  • 1 large carrot, sliced (save some to grate for a garnish)

  • 1-28 oz. can whole peeled plum tomatoes

  • 1 tsp. dried parsley

  • 1 tsp. sea salt

  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 tsp. oregano

  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper

  • 6 oz. mushrooms in pieces (baby portabellas are fine, but plenty of wild mushrooms can really add to it)

  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced

  • 1 cup baby arugula, chopped


In medium pot, boil potatoes and sliced carrots until soft, 15-20 minutes.

Place the tomatoes into a large mixing bowl and crush by hand. Stir in parsley, salt and black pepper.

In large pot, heat the olive oil; add the onions and garlic, sautéing until onions are translucent. Stir in potatoes and carrots, oregano, crushed red pepper and mushrooms. Sauté until lightly browned.

Stir in tomato mixture, peppers and arugula. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Continue simmering for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with grated carrot.


  • I prefer crushing the tomatoes by hand rather than using pre-crushed tomatoes, as the visible tomato pieces really add to the dish.

  • This dish gets better the longer it simmers and is even more flavorful the second day.

  • The “heat” of this dish can be tempered by decreasing the amount of both the red pepper flakes and jalapeno peppers.

More from the Author:

I grew up in a sawmill town in the mountains of western Pennsylvania and northern Appalachia with a hardcore hunting family.

In fact, much of the protein in my childhood diet came primarily from hunted animals. My father was even an occasional hunting guide for grizzly bear in Kodiak, Alaska. I was a hunter until my 20s.

While this may seem an unlikely background for a vegan, I feel it is exactly where I learned early on to look upon factory farming with disdain. For a long time, I’ve had a strong empathy for nonhuman animals and a respect for nature. Through most of my 20s, I tried to reduce my impact by being a so-called “reductarian.”

About that time, I was in a play with a cast of four other people, two of whom were vegan, and they influenced me greatly. I’m sure it helped that my childhood diet was full of vegetables.

As is the case for many vegans, I often get the question, “Where do you get your protein?” Early on I paid more attention to this and ate lots of beans, nuts and kale, but now I don’t pay attention to protein at all. I’ve come to see the whole “vegan protein struggle” as an urban legend.

Just before becoming vegan, I had gained a lot of weight due to a medication I was taking. All of that weight fell off promptly after going plant-based.

I’ve been told this recipe is of southern Italian monastic Lenten origins. (Google has not been helpful in this regard.)

In my obscure northern Appalachia origins, the fragrance of stewing tomatoes still brings up many fond, nostalgic feelings. I associate this “bloody” and “fiery” simmering dish with early autumn, the leaves changing, the air cooling, pumpkin-carving, and fires being lit.

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